Updated on March 10, 2021
You already know that smoking is bad for your lungs, but did you know that this unhealthy habit could also have an impact on your oral health? In fact, smoking is so bad for your mouth that it’s capable of increasing your risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
How is this possible? We’ve got you covered with helpful information below that will shed some light on the effects of smoking.
Smoking takes a toll on your immune system, so your body may become less capable of fending off infections, including infections that can develop in your gums.
Each puff you take damages your gums, and smoking can also reduce the amount of blood that gets to them. Plus, the problem compounds because your body isn’t able to heal from all of this damage as well as it normally would. Even dental treatments that you receive to combat your gum problems might not be as effective. Yikes!
To put things in perspective, your risk of ending up with gum disease may be double that of someone who doesn’t smoke. And this risk goes up the more you smoke and the longer you smoke. With every cigarette you go through, your body is harmed, period.
By now, you might be thinking, “Okay, smoking affects the gums, but what does that have to do with tooth loss?” It’s simple, actually.
When you have severe gum disease, it can wreak havoc on the structures that support the teeth and keep them in place. Once supportive bone is lost, your teeth could end up becoming loose, and that’s when they might be prone to falling out, leaving you with unsightly gaps that may end up affecting the health of nearby teeth over time as well.
Note: If you’re a smoker, you might not even be aware that there’s a problem with your gums because smoking can hide symptoms like bleeding.
How serious is the risk of tooth loss from smoking? Well, researchers have found that the risk is much higher in both men and women who smoke, and the risk is also there even if you’re young.
It’s also important to note that all of this information doesn’t only apply to cigarette smoking. If you use a pipe, smoke cigars, or vape with e-cigarettes, you’re putting your oral health on the line. Even smokeless tobacco can boost the risk of developing gum recession, gum disease, and tooth decay.
But, it’s not all bad news: the sooner you quit smoking, the sooner you can let your body return to a state of wellness. Over time, as your gums heal and you work on taking better care of your entire mouth, the odds of losing your pearly whites may also decrease.
If you smoke, let your dental hygienist and dentist know so they’ll keep an eye out for signs that your teeth and gums are suffering as a result of your habit. Plus, these professionals are an invaluable source of advice when it comes to oral hygiene, and might even be able to provide you with strategies you can use to quit smoking for good.
Need help affording trips to the dentist, especially if you have to get checked often because you’re susceptible to problems like gum disease? Don’t worry! Insurance plans like those offered by Spirit Dental can make it easier to receive the care you need when you’re on a tight budget.